Packers Vote to Allow NFLPA to Decertify if Owner’s Lockout Players in 2011

Packers Vote to Allow NFLPA to Decertify if Owner’s Lockout Players in 2011

Packers Vote to Allow NFLPA to Decertify if Owner’s Lockout Players in 2011

On Tuesday, the head of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith, said that he sees very clear signs the owners are preparing for no football in 2011.

The NFLPA leader was in Green Bay at a tailgate style luncheon with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, where the two asked fans to support the players as a showdown looms between the owners and the NFLPA.  Smith referred to a recent report in the Sports Business Journal that said the NFL is requesting that banks who lend money to teams extend the grace periods for loan defaults through the end next season should a lockout occur.  Smith said that move, in conjunction with language in NFL television contracts calling for partial payment to the league even if there is no football, indicates to him that owners are serious about a labor stoppage.

Smith was in Green Bay as Rodgers, newly elected as the Packers player representative, held a meeting where the team voted to give the union decertification approval in the event of a lockout.  If the union were to decertify, it would allow players to bring anti-trust lawsuits against the NFL if owners go through with a lockout.  Smith was non-committal when asked if the players would actually sue the league.  Many have speculated that the threat of decertification is only a ploy to give the players bargaining power during negotiations.

At the heart of the dispute between owners and players is the percentage of money going to the players.  Owners are adamant that they are losing money and that player salaries need to be reduced.  For the most part owners have refused to open their financial records to the union.  However, the team in Green Bay is publicly owned, the only such team in the NFL, and therefore is required to make financial information public.  Green Bay’s financial records indicate they had an operating profit of just under $10 million for the fiscal year ending March 31.  The figure was down nearly $10 million from the previous year.  After including investments, the team shows a net income of roughly $5.2 million, up from last year’s net income of $4 million.

Smith said that while there is a long way to go to reach an agreement, he and Commissioner Roger Goodell have maintained a good relationship, though he was unable to estimate the likelihood of a deal in the near future.


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